Bone volume and regional density of the central tarsal bone detected using computed tomography in a cross-sectional study of adult racing greyhounds

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Thompson DJ, Cave NJ, Bridges JP, et al.

N Z Vet J 2012;60:278-284.

AIMS: To determine whether left-to-right asymmetry of the central tarsal bone (CTB) of racing greyhounds was detectable using computed tomography (CT) in live dogs; to quantify the asymmetry in terms of average bone volume, volumetric bone mineral density (vBMD), and dorsal cortical shape, and to determine if age, gender, bodyweight, number of starts or history of tarsal injury were significant covariates. METHODS: One trainer supplied 11 male and seven female, unrelated, skeletally mature, actively racing greyhounds, including dogs with a history of tarsal injury diagnosed by the trainer and/or track veterinarian (n=8), and dogs without a history of tarsal injury (n=10). Using CT, standardised parameters of the CTB were measured including volume and average vBMD of the left and right CTB, vBMD of regions within the CTB, and bone shape. RESULTS: There was no difference in the volumes of the left and right CTB and no association with number of racing starts. Volume of CTB in dogs with a history of tarsal injury was greater than in dogs with no history of injury (p<0.001). Mean vBMD of the right was greater than the left CTB (p=0.004), and was independent of history of injury, gender, bodyweight, and number of starts. Males with a history of injury weighed more than those with no history of injury (p=0.004). The region of greatest difference in vBMD between right and left limbs was the centrodorsomedial aspect of the CTB. Middle plantar ligament enthesiopathies and fractures of tarsal bones other than the central tarsal bone were identified in dogs with and without a history of tarsal injury. CONCLUSIONS: Significant left-to-right asymmetry of the CTB in racing greyhounds was detected using CT. Contrary to previous suggestions, the asymmetry was not associated with the number of racing starts. We propose that the majority of the adaptive modelling of the CTB occurred rapidly following the onset of counter-clockwise training, with little further modelling throughout the racing career of the dog, however further investigation is warranted. CLINICAL RELEVANCE: This study described a technique using CT for imaging the CTB in live dogs, which opens the way for a longitudinal study of bone modelling of the CTB in response to training and racing in a counter-clockwise direction.